‘Project Runway:’ 5 Strict Rules Contestants Must Follow

The reality TV competition series Project Runway is embarking on its 19th season. The show has undergone many changes, including the departure of host Heidi Klum and mentor Tim Gunn. Now model Karlie Kloss and season 4 winner Christian Siriano will determine who’ll be America’s next best fashion designer. Aside from the weekly design challenges, the contestants also have strict guidelines to follow behind the scenes.

'Project Runway' Season 4 winner Christian Siriano in a black suit, green shirt, and black rimmed glasses posing for photographers on the red carpet.
Christian Siriano I Amy Sussman/Getty Images

‘Project Runway’ doesn’t allow cheating

The most important rule Project Runway contestants must follow is no cheating. In an interview with the A.V. Club, producer Sara Reas explained that materials such as pattern-making books are prohibited because producers want an even playing field for the contestants. However, that hasn’t stopped designers from trying to gain an advantage over the competition. In season 3, contestant Keith Michael was disqualified after pattern-making books were discovered in the apartment.

But that wasn’t the only cheating scandal for the show. According to EW.com, in season 16, designer Claire Buitendrop was eliminated after confessing she kept a tape measure in her room.

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No internet or media

Except for making calls to their families, the Project Runway contestants have little contact with the outside world. One of the strict rules is that the designers can’t access the internet, newspapers, or other media. Rea explained the reason. “We want all their inspiration to come from the things we leave for them and what they can see. We don’t want any outside influence to sway what they’re being inspired by or what their emotional state is.”

‘Project Runway’ contestants must take mandatory lunch breaks

The designers have a tight deadline trying to create an outfit in one day. As with any artist, fashion designers can get into a groove and don’t want to be disrupted. However, the show’s producers require all contestants to take mandatory lunch breaks. “We’ve learned that we have to make them eat because they’ll get so focused that they won’t eat, and that’s not good for them or us or anyone,” Rea explained.

Contestants have a certain sleep schedule

As seen on the show, contestants have a long workday. A typical routine has the contestants waking at five in the morning. After receiving details about their challenge and purchasing fabrics, the contestants head to the workroom. Designers work all day and evening creating their outfits. But at around 11 pm or midnight, it’s quitting time.

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The contestants’ health is important to Project Runway producers, so they ensure the participants get proper rest. According to Rea, the producers created a sleep schedule for the designers. “We’ve decided that we have to have a minimum six hours for the designers to sleep.”

Contestants can’t work on outfits prior to judging

After finishing their outfits, the contestants must now face the judges. The second day of filming consists of the competing designers helping their models get ready for the runway. Afterward, the models and contestants are separate as the crew sets up the runway. Although there’s a break in between segments, designers aren’t allowed to work on their clothing during that time. Their creations must go on as is no matter how the contestant feels about the look.

Project Runway Season 19 premieres Oct. 14. New episodes air Thursday at 9:00 p.m on Bravo.